Select Ward Miscellany

Here are some Ward stories and accounts over the years:

The Wards of Givendale

The first on record was Osbert de Varde of Givendale near Ripon in Yorkshire in the year 1130.  He was said to have been a descendant of Fouques de Vardes of Normandy.  

A descendant Sir Simon Ward, who succeeded his father in 1306, fought against the Scots and was captured after the battle of Bannockburn.  On his release after ransom was paid, he was made the Governor of Pontefract castle in 1324. 

The Ward line at Givendale continued until the death of Sir Christopher Ward in 1521.  He left one daughter and three granddaughters, but no sons.  However, a possibly related Warde line continued at Tanshelf Court near Pontefract.  Bernard Ward of Cheshire was said to have come from a cadet branch of this family.  He went to Ireland in 1570 and founded the family that became Viscount Bangor

William Ward's Luck

His father Edward Ward was the forebear of the Wards at Bixley, acquiring the property at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries and building Bixley Hall. 

“He was bountifully blessed with progeny.  Nine sons and three daughters had fallen to his share.  To lighten the burden of this heavy freight, one of them William, the sixth son, was heaved overboard and dispatched to push his fortune in London.” 

William Ward apprenticed as a jeweler and in time became a wealthy jeweler and goldsmith to the Queen.  It was said that he arrived at this position through a lucky accident which occurred as follows: 

“Mr. Ward was standing by his shop door in Lombard street when a man in a sailor's habit passed by.  He asked the usual question, whether there was anything he wanted.  The answer was – he could not tell until he knew whether he had occasion for something he had to dispose of, which he would show him if he should be pleased to go into the back shop. 

Mr. Ward was thereupon surprised by a great number of rough diamonds that were poured out of a bag upon the counter by the sailor.  He was asked the same question – if he had occasion for or would buy any such things and at what price?  He answered he would buy and they agreed a fee.  Mr. Ward then invited the sailor and all the ship's crew to supper at a neighboring tavern; where he treated them generously.  The sailor whispered to him at parting, that he had such another parcel for him in the morning if he would be pleased to buy.  And he gladly bought these goods too. 

He soon fell to work upon the stones which fully answered his expectations.  They so much added to his fortunes that he soon raised his reputation and became one of the most eminent financiers in London.” 

Another piece of good fortune then came about as follows: 

“It chanced that Edward Lord Dudley, having much impaired his fortune by irregular living, was advised by his friends to apply to Mr. Ward, as an honest and substantial banker, for a loan of 20,000 pounds.  Mr. Ward told his Lordship that the money would be ready upon the producing of satisfactory security.  He then told his Lordship that his finances would be better supported if he agreed to the marriage of his only son and his Lordship’s grand-daughter Frances.  This so happened and the two families and estates became united."

Aodh Buidhe Mac an Bhaird aka Hugh Ward

Hugh Ward’s father Geoffrey was Toparch of Lettermacward and head of the Tirconnell branch of the ancient family of Mac an Bhaird.   For a long time this family had cultivated literature and filled the office of Ollav or chief historian to the O'Donnells. 

Hugh himself was born in 1593.  His chief interest throughout his life was centered on the history and literature of Ireland.  The plan of publishing the lives of the Irish saints and other ancient records of Ireland was his.  Searching out manuscripts in Ireland and abroad, he intended a comprehensive history of Ireland, both civil and ecclesiastical.  His publications accomplished much of that goal.  He was in fact the pioneer and founder of the school for Irish archaeology that arose in the 17th century.  

He also wrote Latin hymns and epigrams with elegance and many poems in Irish of great beauty and feelin

James Ward and His Sons in Virginia

James Ward was fifty eight and a widower when he came to Philadelphia from Donegal in Ireland with his three sons - James, William and John - in 1730.  They made for the Scots Irish outpost in Augusta county, Virginia.  Sadly there is a record of a petition by James Ward there in 1758, then aged 86, almost blind and unable to provide for himself. 

The eldest son James settled in Greenbriar county, West Virginia.  James’s grandson John was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in 1758 at the age of three.  He was raised by an Indian family and given the name of White Wolf.  In 1774 he fought against his father James in a battle where his father was killed.  He died later in another skirmish that involved his brother James.  

William’s line had a more settled time of it in Wythe county, Virginia, although son William was captain of the local militia at the time of the Revolutionary War.  These Wards stayed in Virginia over the course of the 19th century.  A branch did migrate to Kentucky. 

Their family history was recounted in Lilburn Everett Ward’s 1978 book Ward Family History.

The Artemas Ward House

The Ward house in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts was built by Nahum Ward in 1727 to house tenants for his farm.  Artemas Ward moved into the house in 1763.  On his return in 1785 as a General after his success in the Revolutionary War, the building was expanded to accommodate both his household and that of his son Thomas Walter Ward.  

Thomas served as Sheriff of Worcester for eighteen years.  His son Andrew Ward was Shrewsbury’s Town Clerk and wrote The History of Shrewsbury in 1847.  Charles Ward of the family fought and was killed in the Civil War.  The General’s great grandson was the author and advertising executive Artemas Ward of the early 1900’s.  

The main structure was occupied by Ward family members until 1909.  From 1909 until 1954 descendants of the general lived in a second structure situated behind the colonial home.  The property itself was donated by the family to Harvard University in 1925.  It now functions as a museum.  One of the most interesting exhibits is an old shay (one horse carriage), made around 1800, that belonged to Sheriff Thomas Ward, the son of the General.

Captain Thunderbolt aka Fred Ward

His father Michael Ward had been caught with stolen liquor in London in 1814.  He was tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty and sentenced to death, although the sentence was later commuted to life transportation.  He arrived in Sydney on the Indefatigable in 1815.

He and his wife later settled in Wilberforce and nearby Windsor along the Hawkesbury river.  Fred West, born in 1835, was the youngest of their children.  In 1856 Fred’s nephew John Garbutt became the ringleader of a large horse and cattle stealing operation and enticed other members of the extended Ward family, including Fred, to join him.  John Garbutt and Fred Ward were later captured and each received a sentence of ten years with hard labor at the Cockatoo Island penal establishment. 

Fred managed to escape from Cockatoo Island in 1863 and, over the following six and a half years, robbed mailmen, travellers, inns, stores and stations all across northern New South Wales.  Known as “Captain Thunderbolt,” he gained some support from the public because of his “noble” ways and the façade of a Robin Hood morality claiming only to rob the rich.  He seemed to lead a charmed life evading police on countless occasions until the law finally caught up with him.  On 25 May 1870, after robbing travellers near the Big Rock, he was shot and killed by a police constable. 

Carol Baxter’s 2011 book Captain Thunderbolt and His Lady has given a romantic view of these bushranger years.

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